Tirreno-Adriatico will see fierce rivals Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) line up against one another for the first time this season, but Cavendish has warned that the presence of the in-form Peter Sagan (Cannondale) might alter the complexion of bunch finishes in Italy this week.
“As usual I'm focused on my own performance rather than thinking about the others," Cavendish said in the pre-race press conference in San Vincenzo on Tuesday. "However, I think a guy like Peter Sagan will be active when it comes to a race like this. I think in stages that might come to a sprint, a guy like Peter might disrupt that and go for the GC. We'll have to see what happens. It will be a fierce first couple of days."
Tirreno-Adriatico is the final test site for Milan-San Remo and contenders for La Primavera come under considerable scrutiny during the race. Cavendish has consistently downplayed his chances of Milan-San Remo success this year, citing the increased pace on Le Manie since he won in 2009, and he stressed that he taking Tirreno-Adriatico purely on its own merits.
“My job as a sprinter is to win bike races: doesn't matter if it's at a Grand Tour, a very small race, or a big week-long race like Tirreno-Adriatico,” Cavendish said. “I'm here for Omega Pharma – Quick-Step to win. I want to win. We have a strong team here to win and we are going to try to do that.”
Cavendish has already claimed six wins this season, including four stages and overall victory at the Tour of Qatar, and he will be looking to continue that sequence in central Italy in the coming days.
Before tackling any bunch finishes, however, Cavendish will first line up in Tuesday’s stage 1 team time trial. Cavendish enjoyed notable team time trial success during his time at Highroad, while Omega Pharma-QuickStep squad won the world team time trial championships last season prior to his arrival.
"We'll see how it goes. It's a difficult time trial. It really takes a strategy to do this kind of a time trial, especially if it's windy like it was today,” he said. “We have two great time trialists, Tony Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski, but also Niki Terpstra is very strong in this discipline.”